A friend who wanted to quit to write and didn’t have the balls to do so asked me about how I went about it. I told her that I didn’t think a lot and just did it. She was insistent that I write a story. This is an edited version of the email I sent her sometime in Sep of this year. I think this post is relevant to other authors that I’ve made a commitment to on Catapooolt. Thus posting it.
The Car Ride in August 2013
“Are you out of your mind? You want to leave a job that takes you all over the world and pays you for it? How many people are that lucky?” Vivek said when we took that turn towards Lonavala. If we didn’t take that turn, we would have continued on the Mumbai-Expressway towards Pune.
“I’ve had enough of travel. And I think it’s the right time. You know that I’ve always wanted to write a book! And if I am lucky, let me ride my luck and try and write a book. Worst case, Suvi will hire me back. He’s promised me as much.” When I quit Gravity, I had asked my boss, Suvi if he’d hire me back in case the book doesn’t happen.
“Whatever man. Just know that you are not young any more and you ought to leave these frivolous things behind,” said Vivek. He continued to drive at a steady 40, both of us enjoying the crisp air of the night shrouding us.
I could see that he was concerned about me. Unlike him; he is as emotionless as a rock. I however was optimistic about the time to come. Unlike me; I am not the kinds to think about tomorrow.
I said, “Que sera sera. Whatever has to happen, will happen. Right now I’ve gotta go pee. Just stop the car please.”
He parked on the side of the road. Before I could step out, he said, “you better fucking finish that book or I’d kill you!”
The conversation above happened sometime in August last year and it’s almost the end of September of 2014. I am still alive. That means that I must be done with my book! Update. Yes I am. Its on www.tnks.in. It took threats from friends like Vivek, encouragement from people like Rana Sir, coaxing from #sgMS and infinite support from my sis and my parents to be able to get the book done.
It’s been about 15 months since I’ve quit and I’ve exhausted my life’s savings (I had cashed all my savings to be able to afford to live in Mumbai).
The good bit is that the book is now out. The great bit is that I enjoyed my freedom as a full-time writer and a part-time contractual marketing guy. And the sad bit is that I will have to join a naukri in a couple of days (Update: It’s Nov and been working for almost two month now).
So the challenges I faced, the mistake I made and the lessons I learnt while writing the book are listed below.
Challenges I faced.
- Life away from home. I may not be that attached to my folks but I miss having my family around me. They remain the biggest source of inspiration, support, comfort and all that makes me what I am. I hate to be naked about these things but I miss them. I could’ve done better if I were at home. But I had to be in Mumbai for other reasons.
- Comfort Place. Unlike other writers who can write where at whatever time and with whatever is available to them, I need a perfect setting to be able to write. The right chair, the right table, the right temperature on AC, so on and so forth. And while I was working on #tnks, I often had to contend without one or more of these things. Starbucks came closest but I can’t sit there forever.
- Loneliness. The dreamers are often alone. I think its because it’s hard to sell your dream to someone else. It often got lonely. I have tons of friends but they’ve got priorities. Thankfully, a lot of strangers were very kind towards to me while I was working on the book. More on this soon.
- Money. Money makes our world go around. I did not have enough of it. Actually, no one ever has enough of it. So there were times when I had to not do things that I would want to, to save money. And for someone like me, who’s been lucky to not see bad days (in terms of money) it was a huge huge challenge.
- Self-doubt. I must have asked this myself a thousand times. That why would someone want to read what I write. I still don’t have an answer. And I don’t think answers are coming anytime soon.
- Took a part-time job that ate a lot of time. Thankfully, I was fired from it. But then the flip side is that I had to take up another full-time job that virtually leaves me with no time at all. Money, like I said, makes the world go around. Sucks to be a slave. Hoping this book helps me get some financial security.
- Took all advice on face value. Just because something worked for someone else, doesn’t mean that they would work for me as well. I took suggestions and instead of helping me, they acted as deterrents. Of course the ones helping were doing it with good intentions. This also means that all this advice I am doling out may not work for you. So, rather than blindly taking up advice, please please see if it makes sense for you.
- More. There must be more mistakes that I would’ve made. Like most other self-obsessed people, I may not be able to recall all the mistakes here :)
- Write everyday. If there is one lesson I’ve learnt, it is that I ought to write everyday. It’s like a muscle. If you don’t flex it everyday, if you don’t practice it everyday, it will rust. In fact I remember this line – “karat karat abhyaas te, jadmati hot sujan” from when I was a kid. Practice.
- Leap of Faith. It’s ok to take leaps of faith. When I quit, I had plans of living off my savings. I did that. And before I could really dip into my savings, I got an opportunity to work part-time for someone who paid me enough to take care of my rent. Everytime I was in a soup, some solution came my way! Things work out in the end. It’s about getting off the ass and doing it!
- The world is far nicer than I though it was. When I quit, I heard of grim stories of how the world has wronged people. Plus, I have always been a huge cynic. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers towards me. People came forward to help me, support me and even give their time and money to me.
- Assume that the world will ridicule you. I have another line, from I don’t know who… “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” I learnt that no one will ever understand why I crave so much to write. They may not, I am not answerable to anyone. The world ridiculed me, laughed at me. It was tough to stay strong. I tried. I failed. I tried again. And failed again. I am learning my way through. I am picking things as I go along. And it’s all-right to do so.
- A life of poverty. Lately I have been trying to figure out if I can make a career out of writing. My language is not really perfect and my vocabulary is limited. But what the heck, I’d try. So, I’ve been meeting writers and hustlers. And everyone has told me that it’s a long long long road and it’s full of poverty and rejection and dejection. I am not ready for this one yet. But I will someday make an exception.
Finally, I totally believe in the concept of paying it forward. I am going to do the same. I am willing to help other first-time authors discover the magic of writing a book. Trust me guys, there is nothing as pleasurable as seeing your name in print. Especially when you’ve been cherishing the dream for almost 10 years.